COVID, China, climate: Online Davos event tackles big themes

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The coronavirus pandemic has forced the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting of world leaders, business executives and other giants to go virtual for the second year in a row.

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Organizers are still hopeful that their plans for a larger in-person gathering can go ahead this summer. Until then, here are five things to look for in next week’s online event:

china big looms

President Xi Jinping, who has not left China since the outbreak of the coronavirus in early 2020, will be seen as the top headliner of the event, just like last year.

He traditionally uses appearances at international gatherings such as Davos to appeal for cooperation to fight climate change and the coronavirus and sees Beijing as US attempts to halt the rise of China and dominate global governance.

In a speech on Monday, Xi could again tout changes that Beijing says are opening up the state-dominated economy and dismiss complaints that it wants to cut off international trade. His comments reflect the ruling Communist Party’s desire for global influence to match China’s position as the second-largest economy.

Keep an eye out for any mention of self-governing Taiwan, which China considers part of its territory and threatens to attack, and claims parts of the South and East China Sea or the Himalayas, which have created tensions with its neighbors. has done.

Modi’s mood

India is one of those neighbors with strained ties with China, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi also takes the virtual floor on Monday.

During the 8-year tenure of Modi, the star of the Hindu nationalist BJP party, India has seen an uptick in attacks against Muslim minorities. India’s political parties are gearing up for state elections, two months after the Modi government made a rare comeback on the agriculture reform bill, which attracted massive protests from farmers.

The campaign has drawn crowds of thousands, even as the Omron version, like elsewhere, reported a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Hope for a post-covid world

It is impossible for the Davos crowd to ignore the health crisis that has plagued their plans for the past two years.

The pandemic gets a top billing on Monday, with Fauci and the CEO of vaccine maker Moderna joining a panel discussion that addresses what lies ahead for COVID-19, which has taken several big turns Because the Omicron version sweeps the world.

On Tuesday, the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is sure to promote his repeated calls for greater vaccine equity at a panel on the topic. Many developing countries lag far behind their richer counterparts in access to vaccines. The WHO says more vaccine equity could help prevent the emergence of worrying, highly transmissible variants such as Omicron.

take on tap

Climate change and energy – with a regional look at Latin America – get top billing on Wednesday, with a speech by the Saudi energy minister and a look at how the world transitions from reliance on fossil fuels. Kerry, the special envoy for climate led by US President Joe Biden, joined Davos veteran Gates – recent author of “How to Avert a Climate Disaster” – on a panel on climate innovation.

Technology, Business and Economy

True to its name, the economic platform is never far from the world of business activity. The week ends with a discussion on issues such as capitalism for a sustainable future, trade in times of tense global supply chains, and the need for government actions to produce a sustainable and equitable recovery after the pandemic.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen gets the final word on Friday with a talk on a virtual forum where she has the opportunity to promote President Joe Biden’s plans globally to prevent new environmental catastrophes. Amid the pandemic and rapidly rising inflation, the former Federal Reserve chair may also touch on her support for financial recovery efforts, the administration’s $1 trillion infrastructure law and the global corporate minimum tax agreed by more than 130 countries.

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Business Writer Joe McDonald in Beijing and Fatima Hussain in Washington contributed.

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